So you might remember that Cora has a brother Harold, who is back in America; he writes to Lord Grantham saying he's gotten into trouble (thanks to the Teapot Dome Scandal), and it's not yet clear why he needs Lord Grantham's help, but if he does go to America that could mean more Shirley MacLaine, so fingers crossed.
Alfred is hangdog about his failure… until he gets a letter saying a candidate ahead of him dropped out, and he's in. Daisy's distraught, of course, and after Jimmy James tries to round second with Ivy and is firmly called out, Ivy gets nostalgic for what a gentleman Alfred was and is told to shove it by Daisy, with a co-sign from Mrs. Hughes. I simply do not care about this whole thing, but still enjoyed that.
With Alfred gone, Mrs. Hughes and Patmore advocate for Molesley as his replacement, but Carson doesn't want to hear it. Even when Molesley gets wind of Alfred's departure and shows up to the house Carson's still like "Ixnay." In desperation, Molesley appeals to Mrs. Hughes and Patmore, so they conspire to have Molesley on in a kitchen capacity for the party in hopes that Carson will reconsider, and Carson is exasperated but gives in, which seems par for the course in any Molesley plotline.
Despite his words of last time, Bates is brooding and Anna knows his mind is still on Green, so Anna suggests they go out to a fancy dinner, but that doesn't help either and she doesn't appreciate him seeing her as a victim. Cora happens to be out at the same place, and she later tells Mary she gleaned that Anna was hurt somehow and Bates feels he failed to protect her. Baxter later gives Thomas this information, but makes it clear she doesn't actually feel so great about being his source of gossip. Thomas, it really doesn't take you long, does it?
Edith has gone from worried to panicked over Gregson, especially since his office has a detective in Munich looking for him with no result and her emotional burden increases when she gets confirmation by post that she's pregnant. What it must be like to be her.
Another one of the Dowager Countess's possessions has gone missing, and she continues to be unamused and lets Spratt know same; she then dismisses Pegg, to Isobel's great chagrin. The figurine or whatever is found, though, and Isobel then takes a Nancy Drew turn and discovers the letter opener was also merely mislaid. She takes Clarkson over to try to badger the Dowager Countess into rehiring Pegg -- only to find she's beaten her to it. The Dowager Countess has Pegg come in and recount to Isobel how she profoundly and handsomely apologized for her errant accusations, after which Clarkson is like "Sorry Iz, but you lose this one."
Napier and his boss Charles Blake arrive, and Mary is chagrined to learn from the handsome but plainspoken Blake that the government is not necessarily of the position that the survival of landed estates is a desired goal. Blake later tells Napier he thinks Mary's the type who thinks she's entitled to her assets without working for them; since he's mistaken, there's obviously room for their mutual dislike to turn into something else.
Finally, Rose is planning a surprise for Lord Grantham's birthday, but she needs a co-conspirator, so Cora points her at Mrs. Hughes; the deal is she's hired a jazz band and she needs to keep them downstairs between their arrival and the party. When the time arrives, Rose comes down to explain what's happening, and Carson resolves to keep the musicians entertained -- but his eyes practically pop out of their sockets when he sees African-American Jack Ross. The upstairs folk, however, mostly are into it, and Lord Grantham wants to pick the bill up, so after the party, Mary goes downstairs to find Ross… but sees him making out with Rose. She doesn't overtly let them know, but it's still pretty obvious even to them that she got wind of something. Lucky thing Mary's been through scandal of her own, I guess.
Daisy comes in with toast for breakfast and gives a piece to Alfred despite Carson pointing out that it should come to him first. It's not like her feelings about Alfred are a secret, but him getting his bread thirty seconds early probably isn't worth all the extra attention. Jimmy James -- using that special brand of facial distaste he generally reserves for anything concerning Alfred -- asks why he's getting special treatment, and far more ado is made about nothing here but the point is Daisy's thrilled Alfred's staying, like he had anything to do with it outside of being in the bottom fifty percent of his testing group.
In bed with her breakfast, Mary tells Anna that Napier and Blake will be coming to Downton in a few days, and when Anna asks if Mary still wants to put them up, she tells her yes indeed -- they're writing a report on why landed estates are "going wrong," and although she doesn't think Downton's in that category she'd love to have that confirmed. Mary then notes that Anna's mood has improved lately and asks if things have "sorted themselves out," and Anna tells her that they haven't completely, but things are better and she's moved back to the cottage. Mary notes that Anna obviously isn't going to give her any more information than that, "but I'm glad if it's resolved." Well, I'd like to think it was too, Mary, because it's really starting to drag, but this show has never been too great at judging when to end a Bates/Anna plotline.
After Edith once again anxiously asks if there's nothing for her and is once again told that there isn't, Lord Grantham announces that "your uncle Harold" (I remember Martha Levinson talking about her son's obsession with yachts) is in a fix involving oil leases and, as I mentioned in the recaplet, this will prove to be a reference to the Teapot Dome Scandal. Lord Grantham then says he always thought Harold was good at business, but apparently not this time and it once again goes to show how nobly British Lord Grantham is that he can feel qualified to discuss other people's business acumen without disclaiming how horrible his own happens to be. Edith wonders why Harold is "bothering" Lord Grantham with it, and Lord Grantham admits he's not sure before turning to Branson, who brings up the tamworths to be farmed at Downton. Rose pipes up that her family had them at Duneagle, but Lord Grantham cautions everyone that they haven't farmed pigs at Downton before, and when Branson replies that he thought Lord Grantham was convinced to go through with it, he admits that he is, "but I'm allowed to be nervous. Intensive farming is a big step." True, but at least the sausage deliveries will be fresher.